Kansas Rear View Mirror
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on April 21, 2013 | 5:12 P.M. EST
Kenseth led four times for 163 laps en route to the win. (Photo: Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – News, notes and observations from a weekend of racing at Kansas Speedway.
I make no bones about the fact I love coming to Kansas Speedway. As a destination for race fans, Kansas is near the top of the list.
A mini-city exploded around Kansas since the track first opened its gates back in 2001. The “Legends” area directly behind the track is home to shopping, restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, baseball and soccer stadiums as well as a number of other entertainment options.
The little more than a year-old hotel/casino complex that rose beyond the horizon of turn two and the track has added yet another entertainment dimension for fans coming to the track.
Attendance has been strong throughout Kansas Speedway’s existence and like its sister track Chicagoland Speedway, the idea to break up the controversial “Track Pack” program (where fans were forced to buy tickets to every race on the speedway’s schedule) was the right move.
This weekend’s turnout was decent but not a smash at the box office with cool and windy April weather no doubt playing a factor in keeping some folks at home.
Like most tracks, Kansas would love to have a summer date and with the track’s lights sitting idle it would make sense to bring NASCAR to town in June or July for a prime time outing. Certainly vacationers would have a better opportunity to enjoy the surrounding attractions with a summer date.
But not every track can run in the lucrative summer months so it appears Kansas will remain on an April/October plan, with the second race falling inside the Chase schedule. There will be summer racing at Kansas later this summer when the Grand-Am Series makes its debut at the track in the aftermath of last year’s massive reconfiguration project.
Racing will continue to evolve on the new track surface, which produced a very entertaining Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday with more of a single-file Sprint Cup main event for most of the afternoon.
But Kansas Speedway continues to earn its spot on the NASCAR calendar and I’m already anticipating an early October return.
- Kyle Busch is surely not looking forward to a Kansas return after his miserable weekend, which added to his not so sterling record at the track. He spun early in Saturday’s truck race but was able to charge back into the lead only to get knocked out after another spin and contact with German Quiroga. Sunday Busch spun out early again running all alone on the backstretch to dig an early hole. He started to charge back to the front again before yet another spin that collected an unfortunate Joey Logano in a big crash. Kansas remains a thorn in Busch’s side and the only track in NASCAR where he has yet to record a top five finish.
- Speaking of Logano at least one person “celebrated” his Kansas issues. Denny Hamlin, who of course has been feuding with Logano since their last lap Fontana crash sidelined the Joe Gibbs Racing driver with a back injury, took to Twitter to stir things up again between the two drivers. Hamlin tweeted: I know Joey felt bad but he doesn't have to keep falling in the points on my count :) #seeyasoon Hamlin said over the weekend he’s hoping to be back at Richmond next week and it’s clear things are not settled with Logano, at least according to social media.
- If there were any questions about whether Matt Kenseth would make a successful transition to Joe Gibbs Racing they weren’t erased but obliterated on Sunday. Kenseth was forced to hold off Kasey Kahne in the closing laps but overall turned in another dominating performance reminiscent of his Las Vegas win. The JGR camp has the 1.5-mile program figured out and Kenseth has definitely shown he should be in solid consideration for a second Sprint Cup Series championship when November rolls around.
- But speaking of championships that would be good old “Five Time” Jimmie Johnson on top of the Sprint Cup Series standings by 37 points now with the calendar not even turned to May yet. Johnson charged back to a third place finish Sunday after an adventurous afternoon that began back in 21st place. Johnson hasn’t been flashy by any means but continues to have the 48 car at the front of the field on a weekly basis.